Friday, September 25, 2009

Frankenstein The Next Generation

HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (1970)

  
“You’ve put on weight in a couple of places”; Alys (Kate O’Mara) is the bed-warming housekeeper of HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN.

JIMMY Sangster’s HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN is detested by Hammer purists for its comedic tone. Initiated as a start-over remake of THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, the film dispenses with Peter Cushing’s services and tries to introduce a younger generation. It opens with Victor Frankenstein (Ralph Bates) at school, with friends Elizabeth (Veronica Carlson), Stefan (Stephen Turner) and Henry (Jon Finch). Victor arranges for the accidental death of his father and travels to university in Vienna, where he acquires sidekick Wilhelm (Graham James) and impregnates the daughter of the Dean. Returning to Ingstad, Victor starts a series of experiments, using corpses delivered by a local body-snatcher (Dennis Price) - who lets his wife do the digging.
After electrocuting Wilhelm for complaining about his work, Victor poisons Elizabeth’s professor father (Bernard Archard) for his brain, but the organ is damaged and the resulting patchwork man is a mute thug (David Prowse).

Despite the traditional 19th Century setting, the film is very much of its time - witness Bates’ hair and puffy shirts - and quite anarchic, mixing side issues (Elizabeth’s financial worries, Stefan’s crush on Victor) with comic relief (a severed arm making a V-sign) and grue (the shot of Victor’s hands smearing his face with blood). Duelling femmes fatale O'Mara and Carlson are always watchable, but only Price has anything like the correct tone of eccentricity.